Gunner Robbie N. Clark
Unit : Royal Artillery
Served : North Africa (captured).
Army No. : 932478
POW No. : 221360
Camps : Stalag 344.
British POW 221360
In Registered at Stalag IV B
Working Camp Stalag 344
The Forced March to Freedom (January 20 1945 - April 23 1945)
January 21st 1945
Two years 7 months in captivity today. Captivity began Sunday June 21st at the fall of Tobruk, North Africa.
Saturday January 20th 1945
Called out this morning about 8 am to do a bit of work. Removed a few lines, came back about 10 am. 1 Xmas parcel between 2 and 25 fags per man issued. Strong rumours in camp as the Russians' whereabouts and chances of being left behind. Lights fused again tonight from 5.30 - 6.50 pm. Heard that TSCH? Had fallen and that the Russians were 40 kms from Breslau? Why worry, but we are all under the impression that our POW days are over and that Jerry within the next few days will leave us to it during the night. Roll call tomorrow 11 am.
Sunday January 21st 1945
Woke up about 9.20 am with orders to pack out kit. I woke about 2.00 am and heard fierce gunfire over Bleakhammer? Area that is north from camp. 4 days bread ration issued today to cover a four day march to cross the river Oder. Meat, sugar and marg and 1 Canadian parcel between 3 and 25 fags. Party went to 7111 for parcels2 and another Canadian parcel between 2 and 15 fags was issued. Gunfire heard throughout the morning. Rumours flying around, I had it that the Russians would be here at any 3 pm. Moments of uncertainly, but hopes high. We are only a menace to the Jerrys. However, may it come no signs of moving, so to bed, with hopes the guards leave us during the night. Road to Corsel? Crammed with evacuees, military stuff, Jews and Russians pushing carts with kit and stuff. Orders for tomorrow, same as usual. 1 Camp 7112 - another POW 2 Food parcels issued by the Red Cross
Monday January 22 1945
Not so much activity during the night. All R? turned out for work, but were back within one hour. Distant gun fire throughout the morning. I relaxed and read 'Lie a Rose'. Civvies and Froggie staff, all lashing around. Froggie guards left there, so the looted the C?? cook house. About 5 pm the Jerry guards packed kit. At 5 pm we were told to stand by. Within the next hour we were counter, left the camp at 6.15 pm. We were halting on the road beside Riegersfelth Station. Sledges had to be thrown away. We left again about 7 pm and going steady all night. We were billeted in the barn of a State Farm about 6 am. We picked up a sledge, water in bottle froze. All dead beat. I was whacked.
Tuesday January 23 1945
Straw upon our arrival was flung on the barn floor so I just flopped down and slept dressed and kept boots on. Woke up about 10 am feeling not so bad. Breakfast had, washed at pump. Put on Long Johns, vest, changed shirt, slung moving tonight. Two old shirts and old pair of socks and replaced kit from our sledge, no signs of moving tonight. Russian POW from our area arrived today. Still hear gunfire. Civvies on farm did us well. Dark at 4.30 pm. Watery soup issued then got to 'bed'. Talked with Kelly and fell asleep around about 7 pm.
Wednesday January 24 1945
Feeling better after night's rest. Woke up about 7 am. Rumour said we moved at 9 am. I made a brew and packed. Cold, snow all around, but no fresh fall since early this year. But Jan has been very cold with severe frost.
Thursday January 25 1945
Hohenlar Tecnenuar Kinimir 22 km today.
Friday January 26 1945
Easy going today, not so far. Sleeping with cows in barn, nice and warm. Pinched a bucket and fillet with spuds and boiled them on a fire and lobbed a tin of Jerry meat. At milking time got a pint of warm milk. More spuds up later on. In bed just on dark 6 pm. 12/14 kms today.
Sunday January 28 1945
Snow fell steadily all day. Hard steady pulling of sledge. 25 kms.
Monday January 29 1945
At 'Schwandorf'?. Resting today, bitter, bitter cold. All standing in warm cow barn to keep warm. Managed to get about 2 kilo bread between 6 of us. Grub in tins just lumps of ice but managed wash and shave.
Tuesday January 30 1945
26 kms today through driving cold bitter wind and driving snow. Where is this Promised Land. Passed through Nikolasdorf. Heavy pull through pass.
Wednesday January 31 1945
Left at 8 am today. Heavy sledge pulling through hills. 19 kms to Glanlly? Came into Gladyt? About 3 pm. Three 10 minutes rests. Only tea brewed today. On march early. Handfuls of raw oatmeal which we had to have yesterday. Arrived at Margdorf? Exhausted. Six of us brewed bucket of rolled oats. 27 kms today. Pulled kit on sledge all the way.
Thursday February 1 1945
Resting at a farm at Marzdork? Roughly 5km outside Glatdg? 296 km from Wein (Vienna). Joined by POW from Camp 711A last night. 1 slice bread per man issued today. First since January 21st. !2 spoonfuls pea soup made today. Conditions critical. Cooked bucketful spuds twice today. Thaw setting in. Shave and good wash.
Friday February 2 1945
Left Margdorf? About 8 am. Thaw setting in so had to sling the sledge and carry our kit. Still amongst the hills. Beautiful Spring day but very wet and slushy underfoot. Eating cold boiled spuds on the march today. Arrived at Kamnily? And split into 3 companies of 100 odd men and put into 3 different barns. Hot water within half an hour. 6 backed spuds, 1 pint pot soup per man. Had a wash. 711A in vicinity. Good billet. Got a bit of bread and went to 'bed' as usual about 7 pm. No lights as per usual. 20/23 kms today.
Saturday February 3 1945
3.30 pm just pulled into Carnloft? Billets? Of farm in Ottendorf which is approx 6 kms outside the Kreis? of Baunau. This morning we left Karnnity? Farm village at about 9.15 am having been ready for 8.30 am. Managed to get 1 kg of bread for 6 of us last night. Thaw well in now. Second day carrying kit today. Did about 22 km. Caught up with Bau 20? Camp 711 and 711A. Ration situation desperate. Living mostly on boiled spuds, eating handfuls of wheat. March today 22 kms.
Sunday February 4 1945
Resting today. Good job as I have a cold. My right leg and ankle are stiff, blister under my right big toe. No water here again but managed (6 of us) washed neck, face and hands and shave. Poured hot water over rolled oats and after half an hour we ate them. Had cup of tea for breakfast. Fine but cold. Lying in barn loft to keep warm. Three spuds per man served at 11 am. Coffee issued, 4 spuds came up at 1.15 pm, 1 pt of spud soup came up at 3.30 pm. Say we are going 15 kms tomorrow. Hot water up at 6 pm. Tea and mevle?. Kelly (my mate) got a ??? of bread in for a bar of soap. And so to bed. Better to live dirty than die clean.
Monday February 5 1945
No signs of moving as yet. Mild day. Spuds of soup yesterday were peeled. Little Feltwable (German guard) went spare. He said we could not be hungry. ??? 1 lb of ??? per man. Fag (next two lines not readable). Half issue cooked spuds. Other half issued raw. Moved off just after 11 am 'Brumall'?? lay 3½ kms away. Passed through here just after midday. 'Clatz'' 38 kms away. 2½ kms more brought us in Weskendorf. Billeted here in various groups. 50 in one party. 3 guards billeted in cookhouse. 2 lots of 50 kg sacks of spuds was cooked for us. 10 fags got a bit of bread in for breakfast (??something) up 7 am 7 km.
Tuesday February 6 1945
Woke up around 8 am. Had Jerry coffee and slice bread, marmalade for breakfast. (??something) supper last night. I made up a Yorkshire pudding, tea, rolled oats and tin egg flakes. Got it cooked at house cost 2 fags. This our (?something) had for supper with tea last night. Good billet. Electric light, nice and warm. We are going by rail from here to ('Chernaly'). Rose 9.50 am made a brew of tea. Spent morning having a shave and wash down including feet. Boiled spuds came up at noon. About 2 lb per man. Full up. Custard powder made and spooned warm. Rain fell all afternoon. Tea brewed 2 pm. Kelly (my mate) troubled with gout and bed down. Rumour has it we get bread today. Half pint soup lobbed up from farmhouse. Another 50 kg boiled spuds (we bought them 10 Reich marks) came up at 7 pm. Tin bacon lobbed in (p something). Tea made. Turned in about 8 pm. No bread issue, but our last bar of chocolate went for a portion of bread.
Wednesday February 7 1945
Woke up about 8.05 am. Jerry coffee issued at 9 am and again at 10.30 am. We had slice bread and butter with each brew. Boiled spuds up at midday. Bread issue with spuds. Last night farm women gave us a bit soup. OK. No rations from Jerry these days. Live on what you can scrounge, buy or barter. Boiled spuds up at midday. Had my fill with a bit of Canadian butter. 300 gm bread ration per man today along with a bit of meat-meal. Coffee. Bought 25 kg more spuds. Had a good (something) at 6 pm. Full as a gun. Bought bread for 12 fags. Coffee and 2 slices bread for supper. In bed 8 pm.
Thursday February 8 1945
Woke up around 8 00 am to a cup of coffee and a slice of bread, and also had the same again at 10.00 am. Then had a hot water wash down and a shave, then darned a pair of my hole ridden socks. Drizzly day, damp and a bit nippy. Boiling of spuds came up at mid-day, which filled me up. Bought a few more spuds and had them at 5.00pm. Bucket full rolled oats as rations cooked and served up at 6.00pm. I some how made a 2lb cake with flour bit of butter baking powder and water which the farm woman baked for me. Moving off again tomorrow, 45 kms to do in 2 days. I got a plate of spuds and meat from the farm woman, lucky me.
Friday February 9 1945
Coffee came up at 6.30 am. Farm woman made soup for us during the night. 7.30 am we left Weckensdorf and at 8 am we marched through Weckensdorrand Braunau next. Heading for a place lying 45 kms away amongst hills. Reckon we have done about 400 kms on the march, 20kms on we passed through Braunau, a bit further on we turned down a side road and we were billeted in a barn. Heading for Trautenau which is 45 kms from Braunau. 92 men in barn, boiled spuds issued passed a barn where POW’S from V111A had been billeted. Sleet fell while we were marching. Did 16 kms today.
Saturday February 10 1945
Last night we had a watery spuds and tough meat soup. Pretty horrible but it filled my stomach. Up at 6.00 am had a slice of bread. Fell in at 7.15 am. Starting marching at 7.40 am. Heading for Schömburg. Lies 8 km away. Bitter cold and slippery amongst the hills more ups than downs. Arrived here 11.15 am. Trautenau lying 18 kms away. Did about 6 kms of the 18 kms and arrived at midday at Albendorf. 200 of us put in draughty barn. Had slice of bread and then got my head down about 4.00 pm. Snowing steadily. Approximately 15 kms today. ½ pint of pea soup came up at 6.00 pm.
Sunday February 11 1945
Resting today but it is bitter, bitter cold still. Keep getting roused out of cow byres. In 'bed' (Straw) feet are frozen. 1 pot of oatmeal, spud, meat soup came up at 2.00 pm. Everbody hungry and cold. Future looks desperate. Little rations, no food parcels and plenty more marching. Our legs our transport. Roll on the end of the war. Moving off tomorrow. In 'bed' for 5.30 pm. So ends a dull, dismal, cold hungry Sunday.
Monday February 12 1945
Not sorry to be roused up at 4.00 am. Cold and draughty sleeping. Snowing all night. Snowing when we set off at 4.45 am. 12 kms saw us in Trautenau at 7.00 am. About 9.00 am halted for 1 hour while camps Bau 21 and E5 passed us. Great cheering. Saw Tom Curry (POW pal). Leaving Trauterau 7 kms behind. We did 2 kms down a side road to village of Alttenbuch. At midday 50 of us billeted in a barn. (Something) today by POW from Camp E 317. Still cold. Had a shave, face and hands washed. 4 boiled spuds per man issued at 2.00 pm. ½ litre of spud and carrot soup issued at 5.00 pm. Same again at 7.00 pm. Spuds up again at 9.00 pm. Bought 1 km of bread for 5 fags. 3 (something) for (something)? 20 kms today.
Tuesday February 13 1945
Roused up at 6.00 am. Jerry coffee was served before falling in 1t 6.45 am. We six had a bit of bread. Did a couple of kms and we all assembled together at Altenbuch. We are 7 kms out of Trautenau. Snow falling heavily up to 10.00 am. Moved of at 7.30 am. Roads deadly, hard snow heavy going. When we are 19 kms out of Trautenau we were 120 kms from Praque? Took this road and came into Czechoslovakia about 11.00 am. Grand welcome. Bread, apples, spuds given by civilians. Big line of evacuees passed by. Halted at 7.30 pm. Joe Wilson, another POW, passed us. 50 of us in barn by road. Guard collapsed bleeding from mouth. Coffee at 3.00 pm. Spuds came up at 4.00 pm. One pot of soup from the house. Rolled oats served at 6.00 pm. Bread ration tonight. 2¼ kgs between 6 which equals 550 gms per man. 23 kms today.
Wednesday February 14 1945
Roused up about 7.00 am. Assembled together. 8.45 am coffee served and we had bread. Bought 1½ lb sugar for 8 fags from the guard. Started well, 2 women lobbed out bread and I got a slice. Passed E 794 POWs. Saw Joe and Sammy? Doing well at present from Czech people. Passed through Novapaka. Bread given on the march by the Czech in abundance. Slippy wet surface. Tijschin 8/10 kms away. Village of Radim approached about 12.50 pm. Air raid warning sounded. Saw 1 parachutist and 2 minutes later a 4 engined bomber (American Flying Fortress) tail blazing cam out of the clouds, trying to land, but gave out at 1000 feet. Billeted at Soberez. Lashings of spuds. I went into a house and had a slap up meal. Soup from civvies and bread brought. A good 25 kms today.
Thursday February 15 1945
Most of the boys went out visiting last night but I was too full. Did well for food yesterday. Czechoslovakia sure is the promised land. Spud, turnip, meat and oatmeal soup up at 9.00 am Air raid during night. Terrific ack-ack barrage 10 mile away. Resting today. Bread coming in from Czech civilians. Air raid alarm 10.20 am. No planes heard. Fields covered with snow but roads thawing. I had a shave and hot water wash down. Good spud issue from civilians at 3.00 pm. Jerry gave us a 2 day bread ration. 3 kgms between 5 men. Now in the Potectorate of Czechoslovakia, Czech people think we are the tops. Civilian brought us soup and bread about 5.00 pm. Turnip, spud, meat and oatmeal soup came up at 7.00 pm. Over 2 pints per man. All full as a gun. Civilians brought coffee. Lads out visiting again. Moving tomorrow at 7.00 am. Been a good day.
Friday February 16 1945
Up at 6.15 am after sleeping well. Soup from the civilians served at 6.45 am. In our billet 2 chaps missing. Assembled together at 6.40 am. Apples and bread from the villagers. 9.20 am we moved off. Nice morning good going. 7 kms from Jitschin. Pass through about 9.30 am but civilians have been tipped off about giving us bread hence we got little. Although the civilians had bread ready to hand out. Through this town we took the Dresden road which is 179 kms away. On this road we got mixed up with German civilian evacuees from Breslau/Kattowich area. Stood about 1 hour but about 1.20 pm after doing no more than 15 kms we pulled into the Czech village of Samsina. 87 of us in barn. Spuds and soup served up at once from farm woman. Apples served. Two day bread ration ration from Jerry. 600 gms per man. Little bread from civilians lately. Barley meal and spud soup up at 7.00 pm. In 'bed' for 7.20 pm. 15 kms today.
Saturday February 17 1945
Roused up at 6.15 am. Packed kit. Coffee and bread before moving. Set off at 7.55 am. Passed through the town of Subotska at 9.00 am. No bread given. Good going, roads dry. Civilian evacuees still in our way. 160 kms from Dresden and about 25 kms from Jitshin. Pulled into village just after midday on account of POWs escaping (8). Jerry said only 1lb of spuds today. Farm woman made soup and 2 lots of boiled spuds. Coffee, oatmeal and apple soup at 6.00 pm. We are near Jungbuganua. Cold especially my feet. 18 kms today.
Sunday February 18 1945
Oh to be home for Sunday dinners. Give me the dog's ration. Roused up at 5.40 am. Packed up. Meat and carrot soup at 6.15 am then told we are not moving so went back to kip. Sugared coffee from farm house at 10.00 am. Two lots of boiled spuds at 11.00 am. Meat, meal, jam and sugar issued from Jerry. Civilians brought flour, carrot and small dumpling soup just after midday. One slice of bread and jam. Fine but very cold even in 'bed' feet are frozen. Managed shave and hand and face wash. Out of smoking material, no fags left. Carrot and flour soup from civilians at 4.00 pm. ½ pint per man soup from rations served later. Coffee served and we had a piece of bread and jam. Distant gun fire heard at intervals yesterday and today. Turnips today and spuds. Got to 'bed' feeling OK. Last hair cut December 31st.
Monday February 19 1945
Up at 5.40 am. Had coffee and bread. Are leaving at 8.00 am. Heading for Reimes. Passed through the last town in Czechoslovakia. German called Munchengratz. Civilians had stacks of bread but our little feltwable (guard) stopped us getting it. I managed to get one white bun, 5 apples and a big slice of bread. Came over the Czech/German border about 11.00 am. Now out of the land of plenty into the land of poverty heading for Huhenwasser. When walking pulled into farmhouse, poverty stricken hole. Lucky to get a spud ration from them. Spud, meal and carrot soup arrived at 8.00 pm. I was in 'bed' for 6.00 pm. Cold in barn. Nice day marching, dry under foot. 20 kms today.
Tuesday February 20 1945
Up at 6.00 am. Coffee and bread. Started between 7.30 am - 8.00 am. Did the 2 kms to Huhenwasser and were then 9 kms from Riemes. Passed through here about 11.00 am. Biggest town we have marched through so far. Strange seeing mothers and young girls shopping. Out of Riemes we are 7 kms from Reichistad. Pulled in just passed Voisdorf. 70 men in a billet. Another poverty stricken farm. Passed camps E 711 and E 714 on the road. Bread about 12.30 pm. Lucky to get 8 boiled spuds. First of the raw spuds brought with us we cooked and ate. Soup with 2 tins of Jerry meat. ¾ bucket of flour, ¾ pint pea soup per man. ½ kilo margarine issued between 5 men. 22 kms today.
Wednesday February 21 1945
Time of moving off unknown. Up at 7.00 am. Ate the last of our bread. Moved off about 9.00 am. Went into Reichstad and headed for Leip 48 kms (or 8) away. Passed out of here by 7 or so kms and pulled into barn. 146 of us. Bitter cold snow fell steadily. No spuds today. Bread issued. 6 kgs between 5 men for 4 days. Jam and sugar also issued but not much. Deadly billets. Klim tin of sugar (klim was milk spelt backwards - milk powder issued from Canadian Red Cross Parcel) between six men. Dried spud and carrot soup up at 8.00 pm. No electric light. 15 - 16 kms today.
Thursday February 22 1945
Slept well. Up at 6.30 am. Coffee served so we had a bit of bread before starting. Hear we are doing 40 kms today. Started just after 8.00 am. Passed camps E 794 and E 719 and Russian POWs 711A. Gloomy damp day. Up among the hills and again heavy going. Twice on march had slice of bread to keep us going. Passed through Auscka about 3.00 pm. Aussig lay 20 kms away. Dark about 3.00 pm. Cut a long story short pulled in an old guest house the whole 300 of us at 6.10 pm at a place called Kleinpriesen. Thighs and ankles aching. Sleeping on third floor, no straw. Coffee up within one hour. Dried spud and carrot soup lobbed out in any order at 12.15 and 1.00 pm. Body aching 41 kms today.
Friday February 23 1945
Kept waking up a lot during the night the floor boards are hard. Up at 7.15 am ready to move off at 8.20 am. No coffee so ate the last of our bread. Went through Gross Priesen, a river on our right brought back memories of home tow. County of Aussig is 8 kms away. Approached here at 11.00 am. Air raid warning sounded. Trams stopped. Took half and hour to get through. Passed E 714 column of POWs. Told Joe Wilson went 2 days ago. When 6 kms outside aussig pulled in left down a track to farm village. Coffee issued and I washed and shaved. Part of margarine between 10 and 3 kilos of bread between 3. Macaroni and meat soup rations issued. Not so cold but damp. 18 kms today.
Saturday February 24 1945
Last night's soup worked out 1 pint each. Thickened soup with flour. Bought soap again. Went to sleep hungry. No signs of the end of our weary, weary hungry trek. Did not sleep so well . Woke up today about 6.30 am. Laid in 'bed' until coffee ready at 8.00 am. Ate half a slice of bread and margarine. Bought spuds (still forbidden in our rations) for soap and these were served out at 9.15 am. Six per man. Rain fell during the night. We moved off at 10.00 am. Bitter cold and driving sleet and snow and cold wind. Slept overnight in village of Auscniene. Rough going. Roads muddy and wet. Passed through the village of Mariescaiel also village of Jüdendorf. Finally the whole 500 of us were billeted in an old Dance Hall in Postau. Sleeping on hard bare dance floor. Homely inside, two big electric lights and old Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling. Arrived 2.00 pm. Ate a bit of bread and then rested between blankets thinking much of home Saturday's routine tea table. Coffee issued at 5.00 pm. Cut into our last 3 kgm loaf. Pat of margarine between 12 issued. Legs weak at knee joints today. Kit heavy. Lay down until soup. Up at 9.20 pm. Dried spud and carrot, one pint each man. Another Saturday weekend wasted. 14 kms today.
Sunday February 25 1945
Resting today. Woke at 8.00 am. Slept well considering mattress is a dance floor. Weak coffee came up at 8.45 am. With it we each had a slice of bread and margarine. Could eat a load at the moment. Stayed between the blankets until 10.00 am. Check parade today. Counted us. Lazy morning for other things besides being a hungry, weak POW on the road. In bed until a disgusting watery pea and meat soup came up at 1.00 pm. Goodness knows how we are going to survive. Hungry and nothing to eat and who knows how much more marching. All sorts of rumours flying around. Another 150 kms. Going to Marllad? 8.00 am Jerry does not know. Bags of nice food way back home and if only our folks knew. Managed a walk and cleaned teeth. Darned a pair of socks. Had a hair cut. Rumours going around that Red Cross parcels are in the area. Went to the billet of Stalag 4C and brought back invalid parcel between 8. Weak coffee at 7.00 pm. In bed at 8.00 pm.
Monday February 26 1945
Up at 6.40 am. Decent nights sleep. Coffee issued 7.30 am. We ate the last of our bread and also last night's tin of lemon curd, not much on which to march. Teeming with rain. Set off at 9.00 am. Violent march. Head & side strong winds & driving sleet made our journey hell. Lads weak and weary and utterly fed up. Eventually arrived into Osseg after doing about 16 kms at about 1.00 pm. 150 men put in one barn and 130 put in another barn. Nothing to eat but hot water was issued at 4 00 pm so I had my first and last drink of Horlicks and Ovaltine from the Red Cross food parcel. Rations of dried carrots and jerry meat issued. Went down to cellar of barn and without the guards seeing us collected a good amount of pig potatoes (very small potatoes). Watery soup issued between 9.00 pm and 10.00 pm. Moonlight night after a hell day cold wet hungry and miserable. This morning 65 kms south of Dresden. Valley full of heavy industry. Coal mines and factories. 16 kms today.
Tuesday February 27 1945
Roused up just before 6 30 am. Nothing to eat, hot water issued around 8 30 am and 6 of us had a shave. 2 ounce tin Yutex ? for breakfast. Set off at 8.30 am, roads ankle deep in mud, after marching for 5kms we arrived in Brüch, and 10 kms further on brought us to the borders of Baux. Here are various factories, noticed one factory burnt out. Jerry said that was our new work place, did not understand what he meant. 13 or so kms further on and we all pilied into a big ancient barn at 2.30 pm. No rations up, scrounging potatoes. Hear we are going to Eger where ever that is. ½ pint watery pea soup came up at 8.00pm, this is all we have had all day today, no bread, situation getting desperate again. 28/30 kms today
Thanks to Robbie Clark for sending me a copy of his diary.
Return to POW Stories Menu